GAA chiefs confident Cork can cover stadium debt

Croke Park hierarchy and the Munster Council remain confident Cork GAA will be able to cover the €23m debt resulting from the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, writes Eoghan Cormican.

Munster Council chairman Jerry O’Sullivan and a GAA spokesman yesterday expressed full faith in the Cork executive to raise the necessary finances to pay off the €86.4m stadium bill. O’Sullivan said it is “crystal clear that the board have their work done” in identifying how they will clear the remaining debt.

Cork GAA received €53.75m in funding for the regeneration of their flagship venue, with the Government forwarding €30m (€7.5m of which has still to be handed over), €20m from GAA coffers and €3.75m from Munster Council. Add in the €10m which Cork themselves had stashed away in recent years and that left a €23m shortfall, necessitating an additional €19m loan taken out in conjunction with Croke Park to complete the project.

In Monday’s Irish Examiner, Cork chairman Ger Lane outlined how the board has succeeded in having 21 acres of a 37-acre landbank at Kilbarry, adjacent to Delanys GAA club on the north side of Cork city, rezoned in recent months from light industrial to development. It will enter the market in 2018 and could be worth between €15m-€20m to the board.

Other revenue streams which will assist in wiping the debt are the sale of the stadium’s naming rights, the sale of premium tickets and the hosting of concerts in 2018.

“We are very comfortable with the financial position we are in,” Lane insisted. This was a statement backed up by a GAA spokesman who said the Cork chairman painted a very true picture of where they stand at present.

“Ger Lane’s description of where things stand is very accurate and we see no reason or cause for concern. We have worked closely with Cork during this project and will continue to do so. The GAA made a substantial contribution to what is a fantastic stadium and so it goes hand in glove that the GAA would be involved in the overseeing of matters.

Peter McKenna (Croke Park Commercial and Stadium director) and Ger Mulryan (Croke Park stadium financial controller) are on the committee involved in the running of the stadium so we are fully in tune with how everything is progressing with regard to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.”

Munster Council chairman, Jerry O’Sullivan

Munster Council chairman Jerry O’Sullivan expects the board to follow through on Lane’s assertion that the €86m bill will be cleared within two years.

“I am very confident they will pay off the remaining debt in the timeframe Ger has set out,” O’Sullivan said.

“The shortfall was a slight hiccup, but it is crystal clear the board have their work done in identifying how they are going to generate the necessary finance and I have no doubt they will. There’ll be no begging bowl going around. There is a clear plan there.

“It is noticeable it did run over cost, but, then again, that is the case for a significant number of large projects. I was involved in this project at the beginning and it is fantastic to see the finished product. It is a superb stadium that will play host to a countless number of big games in the years to come.”

Elsewhere, Munster Council will meet on Monday, December 18 to decide the format of the 2018 Munster MFC. With the Munster MHC having been altered to a round-robin format, counties are now considering such a move for the football competition.

O’Sullivan is pleased that Munster MHC round-robin games will act as curtain-raisers to Munster SHC fixtures next summer.


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